Dion Waiters is a 6-4, 200 lb. shooting guard out of Syracuse University who has been compared to the likes of Ben Gordon and Randy Foye. The Big East’s Sixth Man of the Year produced 12.6 points, on .476 shooting from the field, .363 from downtown, and .729 from the free throw line in 24.1 minutes of action for the nationally ranked Orange. Known more for his ability to score in a multitude of ways, Waiters’ 2.5 assists per night was just one-tenth of an assist away from team-leader Brandon Triche. The low-down on Waiters
is as follows:
“Dynamic scoring guard who uses his quickness to attack the basket, set up a jumper off the dribble, or create for teammates. However, Waiters is a “combo guard” who is undersized for his position, but is an intriguing player worthy of a first round pick in 2012 because of his scoring punch.”
The key statement being “first round pick.” Not lottery pick. Not Top 10 pick. But first round pick. And up until a few weeks ago, this all rang true. Besides ESPN’s Chad Ford, who was the first to mock Dion Waiters all the way at No. 8 to Toronto
the night of the Draft Lottery, the majority of the mock drafts had Waiters slated to go in the mid-to-late teens. Now, if you look at every mock draft from Draft Express
, the absolute lowest Waiters will be projected is at the end of the lottery. So, how exactly did this happen?
Shortly before the Chicago draft combine, Ford tweeted
that Waiters had cancelled all workouts. There was speculation of a promise that was made to his agent by a team in the lottery and the three suspects were the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, and Toronto Raptors. From there, it’s been a game of cat and mouse with fans, media, and draft pundits alike all trying to decipher who made the promise as well as why it was made. Or, was there even a promise made at all? Could this all have been a ploy by Waiters’ agent to keep his client’s name on the tip of the tongue? Whether the promise is real or not, no one’s been able to pin point the epicenter of it all. In fact, each team listed as a suspect in the original Tweet has been said to have been the team that has offered up the promise.
At first, the Raptors were the squad said to be eying Waiters
“One NBA team exec told Yahoo! Sports he believes Syracuse guard Dion Waiters got a draft day promise from the Raptors with the eighth pick.”
But as quickly as this rumor surfaced, General Manager Bryan Colangelo shot it down
“Raptor GM Bryan Colangelo was genuine in his denial on Dion Waiters... went on a rant saying "Why Me? Why am I the guy making promises?"
After a week, it was now the Trail Blazers’ turn to ride the rumor roller coaster
“The Trail Blazers had a disappointing season, partially because of injuries and lackluster performance from their backcourt. Offseason acquisitions Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford both struggled to live up to expectations, while Wesley Matthews regressed after a promising sophomore season. Both of the top point guard prospects, Lillard and Kendall Marshall, will get extended looks here, but Waiters who has caught the eye of Olshey. Many teams around the league are speculating that it's Portland who actually gave Waiters a guarantee he'll be selected if he drops to No. 11, causing him to cancel his remaining workouts.”
Not even 24 hours after Givony tied the Trail Blazers to Waiters, CBS came out with an article hypothesizing that the promise was to the Phoenix Suns
at No. 13.
“Agent Rob Pelinka pulled Waiters from the Chicago combine -- which means his client likely has a promise from someone in the lottery. The word is it may be the Suns, who could use a tough, scoring guard like Waiters.”
So, in a span of seven days, Dion Waiters has been reportedly been promised to the Raptors at No. 8, the Trail Blazers at No. 11 and the Suns at No. 13. Welcome to the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft.
Yet when Neil Olshey was asked whether or not it was indeed him who made the infamous promise, he laughed it off
"I got the job on a Tuesday, and by the time I landed in Chicago the next day (for the predraft camp), I had convinced an owner (to pick a prospect), a player to shut down his workouts ... I mean, I hadn't even talked to my scouts yet."
Olshey makes a valid argument. And really, what GM is going to come out and admit they were the one to make the promise? It makes zero sense to do so because any leverage that they once had would now be all but gone.
"(The media) puts it out there that 'it had to be them' and then they want you to admit it, or say you didn't," Olshey said. "But at the end of the day, everybody is going to lie anyway."
So then who really made Dion Waiters a promise? Is there even a promise out there? The fact is, we will likely never know as this type of intel doesn’t usually leak out to the presses afterward. Even if one of the three aforementioned teams does select him, it doesn’t necessarily mean that was where the promised lied.
“His agent told me there’s a promise to another team,” Colangelo stated. “Regardless, if he’s on the board, he’s in our mix.”
Personally, I’m not buying Phoenix making him a promise at No. 13. While the Suns could certainly use another scoring threat on the wing, capable of attacking the basket, the fact still remains they are drafting at the tail end of the lottery. If you were Dion Waiters, why settle for No. 13? If he was truly rising up the draft boards as Chad Ford had been saying (hence the reason for him having Waiters in the Top 10 in his post-lottery mock draft), wouldn’t Waiters be better suited by participating at the combine and seeing his stock soar even higher? It’s simple mathematics.
In my opinion, the race to acquire Waiters is between Portland and Toronto with the Trail Blazers having the upper hand due to their two lottery picks. If Waiters is really their guy all along, Olshey could nab him at No. 6 and leave no chance for Toronto. But wouldn’t No. 6 be a little high for him? Haven’t the rumors said all along that No. 11 is the spot for him if he’s to become a Trail Blazer? That may have been the case 24 hours ago, but in the two weeks leading up to the draft, everything can change in the bat of an eye. Currently, Ford believes Waiters will be in play for Portland during their first selection.
“It may come down to a three-way choice (assuming the top five are off the board) between Drummond, Damian Lillard and Dion Waiters. I hear the Blazers like all three.”
Whether you’re Team Waiters or Team someone else, this is the beauty of the NBA Draft; a mix of chess and poker all rolled into one five-minute time frame that can determine a franchise’s outlook for the next five years.